Radar to stop aerial collisions a new Norwegian invention prevents planes and helicopters from colliding with high-tension lines, wind-turbines, telecommunications masts and oil platforms



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Radar to stop aerial collisions
A new Norwegian invention prevents planes and helicopters from colliding with high-tension lines, wind-turbines, telecommunications masts and oil platforms.
Collisions with high-tension power lines alone are responsible for ten percent of all accidents involving aircraft in Norway. As well as loss of human lives, such accidents have cost the Norwegian Air Force more than half a billion kroner in the course of the past 15 years.
Until now, orange balloons on power lines, brightly painted masts and lights have been the only warning that pilots receive when they are approaching an obstacle. But bad weather and poor light may reduce visibility to the point at which it is impossible to see an obstacle before it is too late.
In 1999, pilots Rolf Bakken and Morten Mørk had an idea for a system that could warn pilots of a collision hazard by radio. The two pilots turned to SINTEF, which complemented their concept with an element of radar technology so that the system would not send out false alarms to aircraft that were not actually on a collision course with the obstacle. The new system provides pilots with collision alarms irrespective of weather and visibility conditions. It continuously monitors the air-space in the vicinity of a hazard, and warns pilots of a collision hazard by radio.
The technology

The core of the system is a high-technology mast that is installed near the obstacle. The mast houses radar and information systems that register whether an aircraft is on course to collide with the hazard.


When the aircraft is 30 seconds away, the system actives powerful flashing lights. If avoiding action is not taken by the time that the aircraft is 20 seconds off and it continues on a collision course, a VHF transmitter in the mast is activated. This gives the pilot a clear and easily recognisable auditory signal, which is transmitted over all VHF air traffic channels in order to ensure that it reaches the pilot.
The system does not require any special installation or added investment in aircraft themselves. It warns any plane that is in danger of colliding with an obstacle, irrespective of its type or nationality.
Prizewiners

In 2000, Bakken and Mørk set up a company, Obstacle Collision Avoidance System (OCAS) AS, to produce and market the system. The company’s premises are in Oslo, and today it has 17 employees.


To date, three trial systems have been installed in Norway, and test flights have confirmed that they work as they were intended to do.
The five SINTEF scientists involved in the project were awarded SINTEF’s Prize for Outstanding Research for 2006.

Contact:


Morten Mørk, OCAS AS, tel: 00 47 97 68 40 97
Erik Kampenhøy, SINTEF IKT, tel: 00 47 73 59 26 58

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